Help me. I'm being abused, how can I stop it?
A friend of mine is being abused. I don't know what to do. How can I help her?
As a professional counselor clinically certified in domestic violence, I often get asked some form of the above questions. Here are seven tips to help:
Tell a friend.
Whether the abuse is physical, emotional, financial, or sexual, first tell a trusted friend. If you hope to end the abuse, you can't keep it a secret. The abuse will only worsen. You or your friend will struggle with fear to come out in the open about the abuse, but remember that Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Call a Christian counseling center or a local shelter.
Your second step is to have your friend call a Christian counseling center. You can find the phone number in the yellow pages. Once your friend reaches someone at the counseling center, she can ask for the name and phone number of the local shelter. If more than one shelter is in the area, have her get all the names and numbers. The Department of Social Services will also have the information for local shelters.
Have your friend use her own phone, not yours.
If you are the one being abused, don't use your home or cell phone. Have a friend call on her phone. If the abuser is tracing your calls or secretly recording them, you don't want these calls available to him. Also have your friend call from her home or some other location. Your home could be bugged.
Your friend may feel more comfortable doing an online search. Have her search on her computer, not on yours. The abuser can keep track of your online search history. Even if you delete it, he may still be able to find out.
Ask about support groups and a Domestic Violence Counselor.
Your friend can call the local shelter to find out what support groups are available there. These groups are free and provide information about services available for abused women. If you decide to see a Christian counselor, tell your friend to ask for a counselor who specializes in domestic violence. As medical specialists exist for heart problems, so specialists exist for different areas of counseling.
Ask about a Military Liaison.
If you are a military wife, your friend can ask for the name and phone number of the military liaison at the shelter. In areas where the military has a presence, shelters usually have a military liaison. You want to be as informed as possible.
Hope and help are available.
Remember there is always hope. Someone is ready to help you, no matter what your circumstances are. You simply need to ask.
- An intimate partner murdered 1,181 women in 2005, an average of three women every day. Of all the women murdered in the USA, about one-third were killed by an intimate partner. (Bureau of Justice Statistics in the article, Intimate Homicide Victims by Gender).
- Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. (the Department of Justice article, About Domestic Violence)
- Women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year. (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a PDF entitled Understanding Intimate Partner Violence)
- Less than 20 percent of battered women sought medical treatment following an injury. (NCADV, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in a PDF entitled Domestic Violence Facts)
- The cost of domestic violence in 2003 was more than $8.3 billion. This cost includes medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - PDF, Understanding Intimate Partner Violence)